Mug Shot (Java Jive Mystery #2) Review
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In her first Java Jive Mystery, Death Before Decaf, author Caroline Fardig took readers to a coffeehouse where murder seems to be on the menu. In the follow up, Mug Shot, another killer strikes—and the owner’s arrest threatens to close Java Jive down for good.

The story finds coffee shop manager Juliet Langley mixed up in yet another mystery after her best friend and boss, Pete Bennett, is accused of murdering his snooty socialite girlfriend, Cecilia Hollingsworth. Juliet and Cecilia have always disliked each other—ever since they were both music majors in college nearly a decade ago. But after Cecilia is murdered, Juliet will do anything to solve the case and get Pete out of trouble—even if it means breaking and entering, spending time in the drunk tank, and facing Ryder, her impossibly handsome detective ex.

Mug Shot is a cozy mystery that’s full of surprises—not the least of which is the identity of the latest murder victim. The first book in the series seemed to set up plenty of romantic tension, which promised to weave its way through future installments. Juliet and Pete’s will-they-or-won’t-they relationship was delightfully complicated, thanks to both Cecilia and Juliet’s relationship with the good-looking new guy. But Cecilia’s death brings a whole new twist to the relationships—and that’s only the beginning of the story’s surprises.

Meanwhile, Juliet’s involvement in the case often seems too reckless. Pete may be one of her oldest and dearest friends—with a hint of something more—but her devotion to him and her determination to solve the case and clear his name get her into some dangerous situations. She’s definitely a fiery, passionate character (which is part of the book’s appeal), but it leads her to make some seriously unwise decisions—often jumping to conclusions and taking matters into her own hands instead of calling in the professionals. And while that adds excitement to the story, Juliet’s carelessness can also be extremely frustrating.

Still, despite the flaws in this sophomore installment, Mug Shot is a fun-filled cozy mystery—one that combines a charming Nashville coffeehouse setting with tangled relationships and the occasional touches of Southern society for an entertaining mix of mystery and laughs.

Mug Shot is definitely an unpredictable adventure—in some good ways and some not-so-good. But it’s an enjoyable read nonetheless. And after the surprises in this novel, readers will be eager to find out where the next Java Jive Mystery will take Juliet and her coffeehouse companions.

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